Formalizing the Informal: A Confluence of Concept Mapping and the Semantic Web

Formalizing the Informal: A Confluence of Concept Mapping and…


Concept Maps are seen as ways to conceptualize domains that can be comprehended within the human attention span, and are often based on terminologies arising in technical, scientific or engineering domains. We report on a set of related projects that go beyond this tradition in two ways: by connecting CmapTools to the new, machine-processable standard notations for formal Web meta-data (RDF and OWL), and by applying the resulting tools to the construction of Web markup for works of art. This domain provides a semantically-rich case study because descriptions of artwork inherently contain a mix of artifacts, some of which can easily be formalized (creator, title, creation date, etc.) and some of which express meanings about the work that are more difficult to formalize.

Formalization of knowledge about works of art could benefit web developers by giving greater organization to these types of resources on the internet. It will also help foster the development of ontologies in other, similarly rich and challenging domains. A CmapTools extension called CmapTools Ontology Editor (COE) translates RDF and OWL to and from Concept Maps, providing a bridge between the worlds of human-oriented Concept Mapping and machine-oriented formal inference. Because of the strengths in CmapTools to provide a specific method for capturing meanings and concepts, we believe that the COE extension can provide the means for formalizing this conceptually challenging domain that involves an artist’s interpretation of the intentions and motivations behind their artwork.

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